Author: Dr. Rehan Lakhani, ND
Dr. Rehan is a Collingwood naturopath who provides evidence-based care to those struggling with brain fog, memory issues, chronic pain, fatigue, anxiety, and all things related to your gut health. Click here to schedule a free consult with our doctors.
The skin is your largest organ – let’s treat it well! It’s one of the organs that we notice first in others, and often is the canary in the coal mine for other serious issues in the body.
You may not think the skin does much at first, but it’s actually a vital part of your health and wellness. Vitamin D is produced on the skin via sunshine – contributing to bone health, mood, and so much more. Temperature regulation is in part managed by the skin, through capillaries near the surface. It also hosts a large part of the immune system to provide the first line of defense for your body (physically and immunologically).
Your skin is the first organ to come into contact with the “outside” world. It’s a protective organ from foreign bodies or pathogens, and helps prevents dehydration. It also allows you to sense warning signals to protect you from harm or dangerous environments – If you touch a hot stove, you immediately recoil. Damage to the skin is more than just unsightly; it can cause infections, damage to internal organs, or dysregulated internal temperatures.
A lot of factors influence how healthy your skin, hair and nails are, but here are a few of the big ones:
Nutrition (and your ability to absorb nutrients) plays a role. If you are not getting the nutrients that are the building blocks of repair and recovery for the immune system, its functioning is impaired. Sleep and stress are other two big factors that can impair immune functioning.
You’ll notice that some of these factors may take time to correct, and there are some key supplements can help immune function during this time.
1. Vitamin E
-Fat soluble antioxidant vitamin (take with food)
-Natural sources: almonds, peanuts, beet greens, pumpkin, sunflower seeds
-Reported to decrease inflammatory damage in skin cells after UV exposure
-Decreases inflammatory prostaglandin synthesis, IL production
-In patients with atopic dermatitis, 400IU/day for 8 months found improvement and near remission, and 62% decrease in serum IgE levels
2. Vitamin C
-Water soluble antioxidant vitamin
-Natural sources: guavas, kiwis, strawberries, bell peppers, papaya, tomato, broccoli
-Skin fibroblasts depend on vitamin C for the production of collagen
-External skin cells rely on vitamin C and E for protection against UV damage
-Vitamin C influences gene expression of antioxidant enzymes
-Can help in a variety of skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, malignant melanoma, herpes zoster, and postherpetic neuralgia
-One of the B complex vitamins
-Water soluble (extra biotin will be excreted in urine)
-Natural sources: egg yolk, organ meats, nuts, soybeans, whole grains, bananas, mushroom
-Is an “essential” nutrient involved in: 1. The metabolism of fatty acids, glucose, and amino acids 2. Histone modifications, gene regulation, and cell signaling and 3. Adequate intake will prevent deficiency (Deficiency is rare but can occur in those with biotinidase deficiency, chronic alcohol exposure, and pregnant and breastfeeding women)
-Symptoms include: skin rashes, hair loss, and brittle nails
4. Hyaluronic acid
-Slippery substance produced naturally by the body, concentrated especially in the eyes, joints, connective tissues and skin
-Chemically, it is a polysaccharide (long chain of sugar molecules) / glycosaminoglycan
-Hydrates the skin and lubricates joints
-Without properly hydrated skin, damage can occur from external and environment sources (sunlight, pollution, etc.)
-Also involved in wound healing and tissue regeneration
-Provides viscoelasticity, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory properties
-Carotenoid that gives vegetables and fruits their yellow, orange, red hue
-Very powerful antioxidant, present in eyes and skin
-Protects the body’s DNA from stressors and free radicals / reactive oxygen species
-Lutein protects the skin from the sun’s harmful UV light rays
-These wavelengths of light can: Cause sunburns and inflammation, decrease elasticity of the skin (causing wrinkles) and damage skin cell genetic code (DNA and RNA)
-Lutein is present in cell membranes
-Lutein supplementation has been evaluated in human dermal fibroblasts to see how it can help reduce UV-induced photoaging of the skin. Aging results in the natural degeneration of the extracellular matrix (ECM) of the skin, but in chronically sun exposed areas, degradation is accelerated (called photoaging or premature aging of the skin). ECM degeneration is also observed to be associated with skin cancers, diminished structural integrity, impaired wound healing, and appearance of wrinkles.
-When treated with lutein and zeaxanthin, dermal fibroblasts or melanoma cells experienced significantly less degeneration activity than controls, in a dose dependent manner.
-In a 12 week, double blind, placebo controlled study, 40 women between ages 25-50 who were exhibiting signs of premature skin aging were given a placebo capsule 2x daily OR a capsule containing 5mg of lutein and 0.3mg zeaxanthin 2x daily. Skin hydration, elasticity, lipid peroxidation, lipid content, and photoprotective activity were evaluated at regular intervals. After 12 weeks, the oral administration of lutein/zeaxanthin significantly suppressed lipid peroxidation by 56%, improved skin hydration by more than 2-fold, improved skin lipid content by 4-fold, improved skin elasticity by 17%, and improved photoprotective activity 3-fold compared with the placebo-treated subjects
-Type of protein that is found every where throughout the body – glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline
-Structurally it’s used to make connective tissue that make up bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage
-Natural sources: meat, fish, eggs, bone broth
-There are 28 different types of collagen, type 1 accounts for the majority of the collagen found in the human body
-Cells called fibroblasts produce and maintain collagen. Aging causes collagen to become fragmented, fibroblasts lose some of their functionality, and collagen production slows down. This can lead to signs of aging such as sagging skin and wrinkles.
In the body, there are 5 common types of collagen
Type I: the majority of the collagen in our bodies is type I. It is the most densely packed and makes up teeth, bones, ligaments, skin and connective tissue.
Type II: cartilage and joint support
Type III: structural collagen (muscles, arteries, organs)
Type IV: basement membrane
Type V: bone matrix, muscle, liver, lungs
-In it’s whole form, collagen can’t be absorbed by the body, therefore collagen proteins are broken down into amino acids to be more bioavailable. Most supplements on the market contain collagen from the entire animal, which are more than 90% protein.
Collagen supplements increased skin elasticity and cutaneous collagen content, skin appeared more youthful per visual grading and wrinkle width and significantly reduced facial lines and wrinkles.
-Chlorophyll is the green pigment in plants (gives plants, algae, and certain bacteria it’s green colour)
-By replacing magnesium with copper, it stabilizes the molecule and keeps it intact in acidic environments
-Copper in the chlorophyllin-copper complex plays an important role in promoting collagen production for healthy skin
The skin is one of the largest organs in the body and plays a role in hydration, serves as a defense mechanism, produces vitamin D, and regulates internal temperatures. To summarize, ingredients to support skin health include vitamins E, C, biotin, collagen, hyaluronic acid, lutein and Chlorophyllin-Copper complex.
Reach out to your healthcare provider or click below to meet with Dr. Rehan for a personalized plan for skin health, inside and out!